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Friday, 24 January 2014

It is said, by some, that there are four stages to reaching fluency in a foreign language.  These are:

1. making extensive use of a dictionary.  This is perfectly acceptable, but does require a lot of effort.  At this stage, one is also encouraged to listen to native speakers, and seek to imitate them.

2. thinking in one's own language, and translating in the mind.  Effort is still required - but not as much as in stage 1.

3. thinking in the foreign language. By this stage, there is almost no effort required.

4. dreaming in the foreign language.  This is the ultimate - one is now fully proficient, and fluent, in it.  I am looking forward to, some day, dreaming in French!

As I thought of those alleged stages, it occurred to me that they are, to some extent, a picture of the progression that one would expect in the life of a follower of Jesus.

1. newly converted.  It may be that even many of the basic Bible truths are 'foreign' to the new convert.  There is much to learn - and one might well imitate mature believers as far as possible. 

Of course, just as I would want a true native speaker to be my example in a foreign language, so I would want a genuine disciple of Jesus to be my example in my Christian life.  Paul was able to write to the early believers in Corinth: "Be imitators of me, ..." (I Cor 11:1) but, of course, he qualified that injunction by continuing: "... as I am of Christ."   In my own life, I have been richly blessed by having many such men, and women, who were Godly examples to me as I grew in the faith - men and women worth imitating.

2. In that growth, one reaches the stage at which one is able to develop a more personal communion with the Lord.  Oh, there is still a long way to go, but the new convert is now seeking Him, more and more, at a deeper and more intimate level.  There is still much effort involved in being a disciple of Jesus, but one can say, with honesty and conviction, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30).

3. When one reaches the third stage, one is beginning to think like Jesus; to see things, more clearly, "through His eyes"; to know, almost instinctively, what He would do in a given situation.  He is now above all else in one's life; one is walking so close to Him that there is almost no effort involved - it has become one's 'natural' state!

4. Stage four is not for this mortal life.  What I've just been describing is what theologians would refer to as sanctification.  It's an important word, and one with which I deal more fully in my book, Great Words of the Christian Faith - details at the top of the blog.  It's process that is only completed in Glory - but there, there will be no effort involved as praise and thanksgiving flow from my redeemed lips in a way of which I can only dream in this mortal body.  Throughout that endless day that we call eternity (chapter in the book!!), I will worship Him in a sinless, resurrection body.  I will see Him as He is; I will know, even as I am known. (see I John 3:2).

I am looking forward to, some day, dreaming in French.  I am looking forward, much, much more, to being in the nearer presence of the Lord - for eternity!  Will you be there?  It all starts with entering into a relationship with Him here and now.  You know it makes sense!

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